|441> Firewalk w/ me + la petite-fille de Camus in Tahiti to get Dengue fever + kicked out of Club Med (a deathrock leisure study) [from 1990 journel]|
[had us plans to travel the South Pacific this summer (J had meetings in Oz + then a week later in Brazil + when we priced tickets seems u cd get these oneworld round-the-world fares w/ 12-15 stops for the same price + since last year we came 1 timezone away from literally «travelling around the world» but no cigar figured this = a good opportunity as any even clicked the payment btn all reddy to pay but it got declined tried to sort it out then figured it a sine too crazy ridiculous + xpensive + came to our senses after all weave travelled most of this yr allreddy + this = our last summer in NYC) so in loo we bring u journel entrees from whence we did a similur trip in 1990 (the South Pacific leg anyway) tho travelling west > east (+ starting in California where we'd just graduated from UCSC) + when got us as far as SE Asia our plan to travel round the world got aborted by the 1° gulf war... ]
1st day of the rest of my life. I have officially left the North American continent for the 1st time to verify for myself that the rest of the world indeed exists. [...] 31,000 ft above the ground + my velocity (relative to earth) is 554 MPH in the direction of Papeete, Tahiti. I thought the feeling would be more sudden but it's not (need to learn not to expect anything). I've said my goobyes [ ... ] + am now in the air. I exist solely for me. Free. Selfish as it sound it is the most important feeling to me right now. I feel clean, reset. I tried hard to feel like this when i graduated but it didn't come. Now here I am. Why me? Why am I so lucky? Why don't I even feel it? What am I trying to [escape]? I am outwardly escaping to get rid of something inside me. What is this oppressive weight that inhibits me? That i'm now redirecting [...] all a reflection of self-confidence. Why aren't my actions as simple + free as the thoughts that flow in my head? Why aren't we the full realization of our dreams and goals? What the hell do i care so much what other people think? Why can't these words sink deep into my physical actions + interactions? I feel self-conscious + frustrated w/ reality. Is this the next stage after depression—first denial, then cynicism, naive happiness, loneliness + now this? What is this feeling? Why was i so keen to leave the state of depression? Why don't my emotions coincide w/ my thoughts + feelings? Where to even begin? [Forever] wiping the slate clean. The world is my oyster ...
So who is this Derek guy anyway? I should know, i guess. [...] I don't feel in full control. The feeling manifests right now in my sweaty palms as i write. A form of stigmata martyr? Fear of confrontation, of being found out. [...] How dedicated to reality am i really? Do i honestly believe our consciousness can be summed up my billions of neurons firing? Yes or no, 0 or 1, on or off, Na through sodium-potassium channels. And the physical laws i studied ... do i believe we are now in a big hunk of scrap metal 6 miles above a vast ocean on a planet spinning along with 8 others around a sun spinning around a galaxy, spinning, ... do i want to believe this or do i FEEL it, sense it? Or as the eastern mystics tell us, does it all come from within?
Woke up shivering, got the seat next to the emergency exit. Air was leaking in + it was –35° (so says the display on the back of the seat). Kiwi couple next to me sleeping with masks on their faces. [...] Down, down and finally through that warm humid curtain when i stepped off the plane. I didn't plan out where i was going because i figured it would all be self-explanatory when i stepped off the plane. Sure enough, this guy from the Hiti Mahana campground came up to me and told me to throw my bag in his truck. He managed to summon about 8 more happy campers into the back of his truck (good thing as a cab was $60).
The first thing that struck me was the night sky. [In the northern hemisphere] we take the nocturnal backdrop for granted, a pattern ingrained inside our heads, a prop in our [unconscious] minds + suddenly now this all gets turned upside-down. Not that i have all the constellations in the northern skies memorized but when they switch it up on you you realize you did [know it] on some level, intuitively familiar. Like painting your room a different color. And there are not nearly as many stars in the southern skies as the northern, no Big Dipper, no Orion, no 3 Sisters. But there's this 1 cluster of 3 stars i particularly like, looks like 1 of those spaceships in Star Wars. [draws diagram] In the back of the open-aired truck under a night sky we drove through Papeete to these campgrounds about 15 minutes outside the city, near this little town (4 stores, a bank and a P.O.) where you can set up a tent for $7 a night (cheap as it gets here). Lots of chickens and dogs running around.
Woke up and got free coffee and an "orientation". The other 3 people were from Portland, Oregon [making 4 of us]. This place is run by Pat and Coco. Pat's from Nebraska, Coco is Tahitian. Quite the set up—pool tables, showers, bathrooms, a kitchen (in which i presently sit writing this), snorkeling gear, bikes, ... I walked into Mahina to change money to go to the store. [ ... ] A basket of strawberries runs about $6. Even the local fruit is expensive. But it's everywhere on the ground. I have my tent pitched under a grapefruit tree + a strange bean pod tree. There are also breadfruit trees + others i can't identify. Then came back + went snorkeling. It was hard getting out. Strong currents + waves breaking on sharp coral. I swam out to this island + once again was in a totally different world than what i am used to. Saw all this stuff i've seen only in fish stores—Moorish Idols, Lionfish, Butterflies, many different wrasses, these fish that are evenly half white + black, carpet anemone with clown fish—yes all these fish really do exist + clown fish do dart in + out of anemones. There were these strange things that looked like fleshy chains or an elongated grenade. Exotic urchins, a large patterned halibut, colorful boxfish, giant sea cucumbers that were at least 2 feet long and crusty like a horse dick. And even two deadly stonefish that were mating. I had been warned about these, not to walk barefoot in the water. I feigned stepping on them with my flipper and sure enough they didn't budge. What's in it for them? Do they normally eat what they kill? Why else would they evolve the deadliest poison in the world? The island consisted of a pile of sharp crushed coral, mangrove trees and coconut trees. I swam back, cooked some rice [i brought a camping stove] and talked with this guy George (who is sitting here at the table). He's from San Francisco and is working on his master's in leisure. No joke, it's an actual discipline that you can study + get a degree [in]. After a siesta i walked a mile or so up coast, climbed up this cliff + watched the sun set while these fisherman reeled in 4 or 5 fish with every cast.
This is the only way i have of knowing the date. The sliver of a moon and last star (planet) are set against a pink-purple sky that is fast fading to orange, yellow, mustard + eventually blue. Yesterday i woke and decided to come to Moorea, another island off of Tahiti. Walked a mile with my pack then hopped "Le Truk" (a flatbed truck with wooden benches) to Papeete. Packed full of locals. The women are either really beautiful or really fat. The fat women seem to have the best time, the more the merrier. They wear bright flowered sarongs wrapped around, 1 big Gauguinian toga party. The men wear surfer wear from California (or did we get it from them?) i.e. baggy gaudy shorts + name brand tank tops. The bus dropped me off in central Papeete. It was hard to ask directions as i don't know much French. Most of the locals seem to speak Tahitian most of the time. So i just walked in the direction i thought was towards the sea ("north" as islanders say). [... I eventually] came to these big shipping docks. There were all these sailor types + me w/ my backpack. They were having outrigger canoe races in the harbor and hundreds of canoes were warming up. A little French man on an ice cream bicycle cart rides by + winks at me. Evidently i'm in the redlight area w/ all the sleazy bars + transvestite stripclubs. Finally i find a ferry going to Moorea, but it doesn't leave for a few hours. I sit + watch this boy fish between two large ships. He catches sardines. I can tell he's excited [when he catches 1] though he acts nonchalant. I contemplate getting out my line [yes brought this too] but where would i keep the fish? I walk back to the canoe races. They've finally started, hundreds in a row. The gun sounds. The ones near the gun start first, then the ones next to them go and so on. Frantically paddling, white water. They go very fast, maybe 30 MPH. Some tip over. I get some chinese food from a street stand. Can't resist, my first meal out since i've been here (living off rice and trail mix). Shrimp curry, very yummy, full of MSG i'm sure, and only $7 for a little plate full (cheap for here). The people next to me finish and the boy goes to clean up. He offers me their leftover food. I'm tempted but decline so he gives it to his dad (the cook) to recycle for the next meal. I do take the bread, however, and stuff it into my pockets.
I wait longer, the boat finally leaves. Probably the largest boat i've ever been on. Full of cars + cargo. I don't remember how long it took as i fell asleep. Awoke in a mad rush. Got off the boat and onto a bus. Once again i had no idea where i was going but knew i'd figure it out. Ends up the 3 people from Oregon were on the bus and were going to these campgrounds. They are going on to N.Z. and Oz too. Oh, this is entertaining, this Australian girl is fishing in front of me with nothing but a long loose tank top and her underwear. She got snagged and has to wade further and further out, hiking up her tank top further and further up. If she goes an inch more she will start to get her underwear wet. She is very frustrated but has a nice body. Anyway, so i made it here to this campground. It's better than Mahina. Right on the beach, camping on Bermuda grass. Paradise. Far less people than Tahiti. I immediately checked out the reef. The waves break about a mile out, but near the beach it is all calm. [Poor visibility] and i didn't have flippers but it was all right. Saw much of the same stuff except this time i saw a giant camouflaged stonefish that had grabbed a mish-mash of things from it's environment + plastered them to itself. I don't know how i even noticed it, except that i saw his large crescent grin and thought it was a strange crack for a rock to have. I got a piece of coral about the size of my hand and dropped it on it. No sooner had it left my hand than the fish jumped up and opened up its huge mouth (much like a Pac Man frog) and chomped the piece of coral. I heard him crunch it as he ate it. I felt bad but didn't expect him to eat it. He acquired a sick + confused look + went + hid under a rock. I swam to this island that was covered with hermit crabs + feathery pine trees. Sat around in the sun and read Susan Minot's Lust. First short story was good but after that they were mostly the same. Mostly about being dumped. Had dinner (top ramen and brown rice) with the Oregonians, strange how Oregonians are still talking about the Columbus day storm, what did I miss? (62'). Then i started Vonnegut's Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons.
[ ... I was beginning to sweat like a dog—oops, thats right, dogs don't sweat—and my] knee was killing me, but I finally made it to the top. On the way down I discovered the bike didn't have brakes. All and all it was about 40 or 50 miles on a 1-speed cruiser.
Got back to the campground and my tent was full of ants. They had gotten into my granola bag and were having a royal feast. Had to empty out my whole tent while they viciously bit me. For the rest of the afternoon i was a complete bum, lounged half-in—half-out of the water reading Vonnegut while several women took off their clothes in front of me. I didn't realize this was a nudist beach, or are they all? Next morning woke up + ate a whole pineapple, for lunch i drank then ate a coconut + then for dinner a can of mackerel + a 2 foot long French baguette. This has become my typical eating routine. Finished reading Wampeter's ... what can I say? Some of it really annoyed me, little tidbits, interviews and speeches, criticizing writers conventions. He says that people are either born writers or they're not. He stereotypes people that go to these things as middle-aged bored housewives, and always referred to good writers as 'he'. But i dig his continued vein of people in this world being for the most part lonesome and isolated and having no sense of community. After finishing Vonnegut started in on Jung's Man and his Symbols. Then this Swiss guy befriended me and we played cards all night. He's doing the reverse as me, already did the India thing and is working his way west. [ ... ]
Went on a boat trip to see and feed sharks. Such beautiful streamline creatures. Reef + black-tipped sharks. We took an outrigger canoe out to the reef where Gastón started dumping blood + hunks of meat into the water to chum them. After a while 3 or 4 reef sharks 4-6 feet long came along and shredded the dead fish to pieces right in front of our eyes. We were in the water with masks on, near the safety of the outrigger. These sharks are pretty afraid of humans. Then we went to this private island owned by some old french dude with all these nude young groupies taking pictures of eachother. The diving there was great. I swam all the way to the reef (with a broken flipper) picked up many cool cowries and on the way back saw a 5 foot moray. He came out of the safety of his cave to check me out. Saw two huge pufferfish [+ ... ]
Later i cruised through Club Med to see what that was all about, to see if it lived up to the reputation of Camper Van Beethoven's Club Med Sucks. Supposedly in their hey day they were very kinky and promiscuous and held organized sex games. Now seems there's nothing of the sort. The campground people are far more interesting. Said good bye to the Oregonians, it seems are paths are destined to cross in New Zealand or Australia. In the afternoon it poured + continued to drizzle with gusty winds throughout the night. I drank coffee and read Jung. Intense stuff. Dream analysis and symbolism. The only problem is i haven't been remembering my dreams (trying too hard?). Interesting stuff on the myth of transcendence and spiritual wanderings in times of transition and how its a pivot point in some peoples lives. I feel as if my journey is taking on purpose. Tying all the loose ends together and learning to just chill + enjoy myself. George (the leisure major) pointed out to me about how backwardass Americans are as far as leisure and work. If you're not working your ass off you're supposed to feel guilty. A vacation must be well deserved and short in American's eyes. Australians and Kiwis on the other hand take advantage of leisure whenever they can, only working when they have to. There's these 3 Kiwi's here, 2 old men in particular who just really know how to enjoy themselves doing nothing. Me, i have to unlearn my American upbringing. I still wake up with a burning obligation to do something, do something different. It's an addiction to learning experiences, so i think. I decided that for the next couple of days i'm going to do absolutely nothing.
As i was reading about the symbolism of craters and how this group of Indians in Oregon sends their adolescent boys to Crater Lake to find their animal spirit equivalent, the people at the table over started talking about Crater Lake. Synchronicity. Ends up 1 of them is this girl Frosini from Washington who has been on the road for 13 months. Really nice girl (+ pretty), talked with her for hours while the wind howled and it poured. But finally i returned to my tent where i didn't sleep all night. Woke up and dried off all my stuff and washed my clothes. Moved my tent right up on the water front. It's a very moody day and there's a lot of tension and electricity in the air. The cool wind is refreshing.
[... The only reason i did this was because i read a story or was told a story by (i think) [my brother] who spent ... ] many days clinging to the roof because the wolves wanted to get him. I clung to the upper edge but there was snow + i kept sliding. I felt i had to relive the experience. I noticed a ledge where you could lie down and wondered why [my brother] didn't go down there. In the process of climbing down i ripped some shingles off the top edge. I made it down to the level area. It was this rotted roof + i wasn't sure i should walk on it. I could see into the house + somehow got in. There was a cat. I noticed a hole where a wolf was getting in. I tried to stop him, but he made it in. He ended up being very tame and lovable + i sat there petting him. There was a man in there that told me the wolves were tame when they were in the house. This man's purpose was to keep a notebook of things that happened to people in this house. He handed it to me and told me to write down my experience. The notebook was full of [my mom + brothers] writing and contained mostly a list of broken items such as plumbing, etc... like it was some sort of maintenance logbook. The house then became a tall, remodeled 4-story house. [My ex-girlfriend + her brother] were there so i gather it was her family's home. They lived on the bottom floor only. We went exploring the other 3 floors. They were all empty and devoid of furniture, yet bright and clean. [Her brother] was happily running up and down the stairs. I asked them why they didn't live in these rooms but got no reply.
Possible interpretation of dream 2: as Jung points out, houses represent the unconscious mind. I approach this house and there are wolves (evil, mystery, the anima in me). I had been recounted a story that [my brother](predecessor, role model or possibly even father figure in the absence of a real 1) had the same experience before me. He clung to the outside of the conscious mind in fear. I did this at first until i saw an easy way out. At first i did not question clinging to the roof—i just did it. Then i got to an area in the roof that was rotten and found a way in. Once inside the unconscious mind fearful things become tame and enjoyable. The log the man showed me was in mom's handwriting mostly so in a sense this was the family's unconscious or psyche. The inside of the house was very disheveled and unorganized and the logbook in a sense is perhaps the log i am writing now. I am "reliving" all that that. The fact that i found a way off the roof rather than cling in fear is also a positive sign. (Dad clung in fear and never entered the unconscious). The unconscious of mom has been entered but is a shack in disarray. On the other hand, you have [my ex-girlfriend's] family (a surrogate family) unconscious. It is neat and orderly + accessible + large but there are many rooms in the upper floors that remain unused. The fact that [her brother] (that represents the rational, left brain part of their family, [my ex] not necessarily included) was running happily up + down the stairs shows he is able to reach these rooms if he wants but they remain undecorated and unlived in. He is happy with his grounded situation but i thought it was a waste, inneficient. Must be a middle ground inbetween chaos + [benign sterility].
The tide is very low, too low for swimming. It is extremely quiet. A cat walks over the table and sniffs what i'm eating then continues on with a haughty twitch of her tail. I'm in the communal kitchen. The only other people are these strange mafioso French dudes who seem like they are in exile here. They never talk to anyone except the maids. Maybe they are existential writers. This 1 guy sits in the same spot every day and stares at me. Frosini left. I don't know what happened to the guy she was with. He came down w/ Dengue fever. They're dropping like flies. A few people have gotten it. You get it from mosquitoes, a kind of mild form of malaria where you are sick for 2 weeks and can't move, they call it the "bone-breaking disease". There are 3 good-looking surfer girls from Florida here. I haven't talked to them as this group of 6 French frat-boy types are partying it up and doing their best to scam on the girls, i.e. singing American pop songs in terrible English with passion, flushed cheeks and droopy lips while chugging beer. The dynamics of the whole scene here is strange. It is interesting to watch it change day by day. People come and go. There's the silent couples that never talk to anybody else, the loud and happy Kiwis, a mish-mash of European guys with Tahitian girlfriends/escorts + an old drunk Tahitian man that walks around giving everybody grapefruits + handfuls of chilis + sputtering unintelligible remarks. And the owner Gaston, and his French girlfriend who somehow remain quite pale despite all the sun. The friendly American Griswald family thrown in on occasion. And there's me absorbed in books + eavesdropping. People must think i'm some some sort of mysterious intellectual type. What do i have to show for myself being here for a week? I got a little sunburnt. Maybe i should stay in the shade today.
"Fui" is the expression for boredom in Tahitian. Evidently their mantra.
I got sidetracked as a splendid rainbow came out of the little offshore island. I'm sure it won't look good in a photo. I haven't bothered to take many. Took an excursion off the reef yesterday. Swam a mile out to the reef, and then a half mile or so along the reef to the island. Then across the channel to Club Med. Immersed in the other side, the underbelly. Like dreaming. Fish of every variety and color. Cowfish of neon-turquoise and green, sharply defined patterned triggers, rippled, fleshy and mosaicked clams like dream-state vaginas—wavy lips of colorful flesh and sensitive (eye-lined) folds. Just like the popeye cartoons. Lots of colorful seaslugs, even followed a stingray around. Tried my luck at fishing again with no luck. Spend most of my time with these2 Australian blokes, Miles and Daren. They're always rolling their own cigarettes to keep up with their habit. They put 2 together to make them twice as long. We played "Bullshit" and Daren would bullshit me on every round, regardless of whether he thought i had them or not. Miles would cheat and put down a dozen cards under the auspices of two 8s. He considered cheating part of the game.
New Arrivals? There's this "family" (?) from France that creeps me out. As I write this the father, a big slimy Robert Plant looking guy w/ a perm in tight speedo bunhuggers just walked to the kitchen and let out a loud stinky fart, then returned to the table. The French have such good manners, to at least leave the table to fart. Shit he just did it again, this time it sounded a little wet like it was squeezed out under much strain. This gross man + his son (11 or 12, also in a tight speedo) are hugging eachother all the time. They are really feminine and obsessive about it, tender loving hugs and kisses. Every time the kid leaves the room he caresses his father + kisses him + whispers sweet nothings. Something about it seems off. As i write this the kid is snuggling up to his father with his head on his shoulder, while his anal-retentive dad shoes away cats if they come into the room (he glares at me mumbling in French when i pet them). There is a woman that just doesn't fill out the familial trio, seems more like a maid. And that other French guy still sits in the corner staring at me. He is like a crossbreed between an uptight macho cop and a pasty, slimy writer. Definitely an alcoholic to boot. I just polished off a loaf of bread with cream cheese and jam, washed it down with Chinese tea that is even blacker than coffee. I've met my match. These little Tahitian kids outside can meow even better than me. They've been doing it for quite a while and are getting on the nerves of the creepy uptight father. Humans imitating cats is atrocious to him.
If there was any culture here there is definitely no signs of it anymore. Maybe the occasional tribal man with a G-string and beads around his neck and flowers in his hair returning from a hard days work at club med with a ukulele in his hand. He looks ashamed as he walks by the fisherman and us campers. You'd think he'd at least bring a pair of shorts for the walk home. He looks like an overworked male stripper that has been eaten up by thousands of horny housewives who's bald fat husbands have the money to take them to Club Med but can't get it up in their romantic bungalows. I have a tender spot in my heart for this guy. I watch him everyday as he trudges home from work, sad and exhausted. These bored beautiful wives lounge naked waiting for Tarzan + he can't meet their demand. I wouldn't mind his job for a day.
Speaking of which, I should ask Gaston for some of that meat he throws to the sharks to fish with. I had Poisson Cru yesterday. Literally means "Raw Fish". A kind of Tahitian ceviche—raw hunks of tuna marinated in lemon + coconut milk w/ lots of ginger + onions, carrots + veggies. Bon appétit.
Early morning, dead of winter. It's raining but i'm only wearing shorts. I'm still reeling in awe over an encounter w/ Albert Camus' granddaughter. I was going down shore to do some fishing. Found a pier to fish off. Along comes this beautiful young girl lounging on a surfboard. She parks her board smack in front of me and then removes her top. No 1 else around except us. Then she just lies there. Long, bright red hair, tall, slender, subtlety bronzed body, petit breasts [ ...] Surreal this was happening. My throat became incredibly dry. I was thirsty as hell. If she had tried to talk to me then i wouldn't have been able to utter a word my mouth was so dry. Not that i would even know what to say. There was this restaurant on the beach so i went to get something to drink + impulsively got a beer, then said 2. I came back and offered her 1 but she declined, so then i felt rejected + creepy. That's what i get for being such a typical dick-for-brains. I was just surprised at myself that i got the nerve to do that. So i celebrated by drinking both beers. To make matters worse the fishing was lousy. I was using bread as bait. The French mermaid lay there for a while then paddled in. I baited my hook, threw it in, then jumped in after it. The water was nice. I continued fishing + then she came back + parked herself on the dock next to me (w/ her shirt on now). She said something in French, then "no fish?" Her english wasn't so good, so we talked mostly in Spanish. She was from France and only 15. Came to Tahiti with her parents, an only child, ends up she's the granddaughter of Albert Camus! Conoces? Claro que si! It was the kind of conversation where it didn't matter what we said. We'd be happy if the other person just understood. We just reeled off names of bands, mention of "The Cure" set her smiling radiantly. In between talking we'd just stare at each other + laugh nervously. If it wasn't for the fact that it became cloudy, rainy + windy (+ i was freezing cuz i was wet from jumping in the water to show her what a "rock" was) the conversation probably would have gone into the night. She brought me a towel. The whole reason i was there in the first place was because i was hungry and sick of French bread so was trying to catch a fish + what do i catch? Too bad she was only 15 + here w/ her parents. [...] Maybe I'm getting desperate, but hey, what else is there to do on this island? You can't even lay in the sun anymore as it has been raining. I read this trash novel yesterday called Orange Wednesday [by Leslie Thomas?]. I also halfway finished Tropic of Cancer. Raunchy entertaining stuff. Funny the books people leave behind in places like this. I think i'll start to leave my name + comments in all the books i finish + leave behind [a practice we've continued now for some 25 years].
Yesterday walked over to Club Med to try to cop a free dive and maybe water skiing. This guy told me if you walk over there + act cool like you're one of them you can get stuff like that (all activities are included with the room price). I had already been through a few times, unmolested. But this time Marcel + i were accosted by this fat blubbering asshole yelling things in French, like "privée!" Marcel spoke French but acted like he didn't. We shrugged our shoulders and said we weren't staying there, that we were swimming + just came ashore (so didn't see the signs) and that we would leave. But he took us by the arm to some office + interrogated us + kept yelling at us. I just kept telling him that we'd leave, "what are you going to do, hold us hostage?" Finally he escorted us to the gate + kicked us out. So we went on a trek instead, Marcel, Groeta + i. Marcel is this Swiss guy studying to be a dentist. Groeta is this German guy who had just finished 2 years of doing community work helping handicapped children because he didn't want to do his mandatory two years in the army. We got a few rides hitchhiking to the base of the mountain, but otherwise walked 15-20 km to the trailhead. People were not so friendly here. We would stick out our thumbs and they would flip us off. And the tourists with cars were too stingy. By the time we got to the trailhead we were already tired, and it was a 2-3 hour walk. We went the wrong way up into these pineapple plantations a few times before we found the trail. We hauled ass up this near vertical trail, sweating like pigs. We came to a ridge and a clearing in the thick jungle with a view. Above us was a big outcrop with a hole through it. You could see the sky through it. Below, the ocean and lagoon. On the way down we swung like monkeys through the trees and vines to slow down our momentum it was so steep. In one section we hit this thick grove of bamboo and I was expecting to see Pandas or something.
The thing about talking with foreigners is that you can't use slang or allude to American cultural references, just straight forward, dry facts. Played hitchhiker tag with this couple going back to the campground. We got a ride and laughed at a hitchhiking couple as we passed them. But then we got dropped off and then the couple passed us as we were trying to get another ride. Finally we got a ride with a Tahitian man in a telephone company truck. We encouraged him to drive fast and pass the car with the couple in it. He was skeptical but did it anyway, gaining enthusiasm as he realized our intent. We were victorious in the end, making it back to camp ahead of them.
That night we had a "beach blanket bong out" with the 2 Aussies and this British girl who kept saying "oh, this is so much fun" and dancing around in the sand to old Rolling Stones songs. Daren was singing along in a low off-key voice. They had had a lot of wine and were burning everything in sight in a huge inferno. This lady walked by with a torch held above the water and caught an octopus. She threw it out on the sand and told us to watch it for her. It kept oozing its way back to the water and i kept kicking it back up the beach though i felt sorry for it. It wasn't mine to put back. She disappeared off on the horizon never coming back for her octopus. So we just left the octopus to its own devices. A few hours later it was still there, slowly dying, and the lady was nowhere to be seen. Daren took a burning stick and started whacking at its head in a frenzy. Felt like a scene out Lord of the Flies + when i said this they were encouraged more to play the part, hooting + hollering like animals. I tried to stop him but then figured he may as well kill it quickly. The octopus was squirting red ink out [blood?]. Daren wasn't doing a very good job of it and i was starting to feel sick. I encouraged him to get a knife and sever its head. Miles got a machete and hacked it in a drunken stupor. I cut off its legs when they finally finished it off, to eat tomorrow. [if memory serves me it was too tough to eat]
[CONT from above ... there was a pit (7 x 3) dug into the earth where since 5 a.m. that morning they had been burning these special pine trees from Tahiti that are called Allo Pine (meaning highest, notice allo, alto)...]. A special wood that grows high in the mountains and burns very hot. They placed river rocks with little holes in them over the coals so they didn't explode. A few people from the campground + i heard about it on short notice. We got there at sunset. The moon was coming up over the mountain with the hole in it, a magnificent scene. The coals turned the rocks red hot, fire still dancing between the spaces. We waited a while as the whole thing is dependent on the priests mood. He can terminate the ceremony at any point. Finally he came after this sensual dance of men and woman to bless the fire pit. The way those vahines move their hips is mindblowing—their arms flail in space while their hips gyrate so fast you can barely see them. The men, on the other hand, seem clumsy and unsexy. Maybe that's just because i'm a guy.
[Then] the priest comes along, a rolly polly guy with a banana leaf headdress, along with his disciples in tow. The mood is solemn and they remind us again (in Tahitian) for absolute silence. And that we can't take pictures of the priest. He chants and walks around the pit. His disciples prod the fire with long bamboo poles, churning sparks and exposing the red hot sides of the rocks. With palm leaves in hand, the priest starts beating on the rocks while walking on the them. He tripped on the last step and everyone went ahhhhh! Then he did it a couple of times sideways.
Earth, wind, fire and water. He walks on fire from the mountains to the sea (the direction is deliberate). A few of his disciples walked across. Then the next thing i know is they're inviting people to come and do it. I had just been telling Marcel + Groeta that i would do it if they let me. I had just read a physicist's account of firewalking and it convinced me that it was harmless. They thought i was crazy, so of course once the invitation was given, they egged me on. A few of the others from the campground went up too, but it was mostly locals. As I approached the pit a little girl fell screaming and the priest ran to pick her up. The whole scene was like some sort of Jonestown Kool-aid thing, a twisted spiritual pilgrimage. Why would people want to do this? We could just build our own fire and try it ourselves. I gave Marcel my camera and asked if he could take a picture of me. You stand in line and when you get to the front the priest checks you out (you can't be drunk and menstruating woman are not allowed). Then he places his hand on your forehead. It all didn't matter because i knew (scientifically speaking) that i could do it. He gave me a nod ... 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 i stepped, walking slowly and deliberately, looking ahead for good rocks to step on. Just as it starts to feel hot your feet move on. And then i stepped up onto the grass, didn't feel a thing, the bottom of my feet fine. The reason they do this is to cleanse their souls, and i can see why they think so. As you walk over, the warm air rushes up, your body actually feels hotter than your feet. Convection heat on your face + arms, kind of a soothing heat like being out in the sun. Marcel forgot to take the picture so i stood in line again to do it. I did it [but the photo never turned out] and then things got chaotic. People were taking flash photos of the priest + making noise and then another girl fell on the coals and got burnt. So the priest called it off, said there was bad spirits lurking.
After that they danced more and did some fire dancing. Ukuleles + log drums + folksongish tunes. A few of the guys from the campground got their feet burnt so we had to stop at the hospital on the way home and take them in to get bandaged up. One guy's feet were blistered + bleeding. Guess it helps that i have sweaty feet.
I haven't written in a while cuz I was struck down by Dengue fever. I started to feel a little queasy the day after firewalking. Thought it was from being in the sun too much. That night i went to bed early (7:30) and suddenly it felt like i had been hit by a truck. Tossing and turning, i would go from being incredibly hot to cold an shivering. I felt like an oven generating heat, must of had one hell of a fever. I fell asleep for what seemed like days, but when i woke up it was still dark + there was people in the communal room. Still early the same night. Time had stopped. I went to the bathroom and threw up a bitter conglomeration of stomach acid + top ramen (with lots of lemon + garlic). Every joint + muscle in my body felt as if i had just run a marathon. Didn't sleep the rest of the night. Tossing + turning in sweat + tiger balm. I felt like throwing up all night but couldn't. I lay there, playing mind games of patience until the morning came. But right before it got light it started pouring. Not just the tropical showers we've been having, but a full-on storm. During a break in the storm i went to the bathroom and puked my guts out. It made me so weak that i collapsed next to the toilet and fell asleep. I woke up and returned to my tent, sleeping all morning in the rain. Sleeping in a tent on the hard ground in the rain was probably not the best idea, but i had no choice. Even with the storm flaps some rain still got in and since my tent is waterproof it puddled up until i was laying in standing water. When i finally got up i didn't feel too bad, i was walking around and talking. I assumed i had the flu for the night (that is also going around). Miles got Dengue and he was floored. Didn't see him until yesterday, but some people were taking care of him. He got a 4 inch needle in his bum and says he feels a bit better. I was going to do the same, but now i feel ok. I took some Tylenol w/ codeine. It's a good thing as i have a plane out tomorrow. I met this cool couple from Santa Barbara, Ken and Tracy, beautiful, healthy, tan people who have travelled around the world for like 6 years. His parents are from Michoacan and his grandma makes a mean pozole. I'd love some of that right now. All in all, i consider myself lucky as i have only had the Dengue for 3 and a half days now and i was only really completely out of it 1 night. Supposedly people are bed-ridden usually from 5 to 14 days. Another storm is coming, got to get up.
... i spoke too soon, the worst was yet to come. That was just the eye. After the last entry i couldn't keep a thing down. I went to the doctor and he gave me a bunch of pills, anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea + codeine. I couldn't keep the medicine down, the codeine made me really ill, even the anti-vomiting pill made me vomit. So i went back and got these shots, 2 big ones right in the buttocks. Almost passed out when the needle went in. They were supposed to make me feel great right away but they made me feel so sick i couldn't make it home. I sat there in front of the doctor's office unable to move. [Back at the campground] i moved into the invalid room with Miles. Some nice girl changed my airline ticket for me and brought Miles + i tea throughout the day. Never even got her name, so sweet of her. Miles would recite Monty Python until i would puke. The girl even took out our puke pails. The next day i felt better though Miles still didn't. Now it's just a mental pain, hard to describe. I'm extremely bored and sick of this place. Very homesick, feel like i'm wasting my time + money here. I was on the verge of tears throughout the day trying to find a place to be alone. Weird phenomena, you'd think i'd be happy to just not be sick. The doctor said something about the sickness lasting five days, followed by several weeks of severe depression. Everything here reminds me of being sick. I wish i hadn't changed my flight as i could've made it out of here yesterday. Now i have to wait a week. Maybe i'll go to Tahiti or Huahine. I want to hold someone. I want someone to care for me. [ ... ] I'm getting sick of this crowd. I'll get the first boat out in the morning.
When I last off I was miserable on Moorea. The reason I am writing in this spanking new journal is cuz i got if from [my brother], just happened to coincide with my other spiral-bound journal getting destroyed for reasons i'll get to. I was miserable. Even after i got over the physical elements of the illness i was still very weak, depressed, lonely + desperately homesick. It was unbearable, i would cry sporadically throughout the day. Hard to explain, specially weird being in a tropical place. All these emotions were suddenly released. [...] I've come to the hard conclusion that i cannot solely exist for myself, i need loved ones + family. All that I strived for is lost—to feel i was existing just for myself. So now i've concluded i can't and now what? I plod on. Sure i meet people + share experiences. Travelers are an interesting cross-section, but they are fleeting. You exchange phone numbers but know you'll never see these people again. This is where i was two nights ago when i wrote [my ex] a sappy 20 page letter in a bar. Just writing it (i haven't sent it yet) snapped me out of my depression momentarily. W/ my walkman on full blast listening to The Cure Pornography: "I can lose myself in Chinese art + American girls / all the time lose me in the dark, please do it right / running into the night, i will lose myself tomorrow, crimson pain my heart explodes / my memory in a fire, if someone will listen / at least for a short while ... " Is that all i want, a semblance of an audience, if even my ex? Maybe i should just be a writer.
So my other journal? Right after i got the Dengue and went back to my tent this huge storm hit Moorea. Some called it a cyclone, high winds + pouring rain that managed to get through my rainflaps. The inside of my tent was holding a few inches of water that I was sleeping in. It was a long night, i thought it couldn't get worse. This island was possessed. And the next morning i'm eating breakfast and one of those Swedish beach bunnies opens the fridge in front of me and lets out this deafening scream. Full of Terror. I thought it was some bug or spider or a dead cat or something or that she got her hand stuck in the door, until i realized she was being electrocuted (standing in a puddle of water). By the time i got up to grab the broom in the corner she had managed to pry herself from the 220 volts that was gripping her to the fridge. She fell back and i caught her and she just lay there involuntarily twitching for a few minutes. It was all very frightening. Nothing was really said, i think she was embarrassed about it.
[...] All i wanted to do was get off this island. I couldn't get myself to eat. I resorted to eating out about once a day. Stuffing myself with fruits + coconuts, hoping i would snap out of my misery. Finally, i left even though i hadn't gotten my clothes dry. Anywhere but Moorea, even Tahiti. I got to Papeete and it was pouring so i stayed at "Te Amo" this miserable hostel with sweat + lice infested mattresses + snoring Germans that i never did see in the light. I waited for the sun to come up then walked around Papeete. They have a market—bought some fruit and bread and walked down by the harbor looking at all the yachts ... some small dinky little things, other fancy catamarans ... from all over the world. You got to have guts to sail one of those little boats. I wouldn't. They look like 1 big wave could just wipe it out. But all those boats intrigued me. I thought of them docked in SF or LA or wherever, as an escape, the ultimate freedom. It's a great way to get around, i just don't have the guts (no pun intended). I had this urge to leave "Te Amo" just as bad as i wanted to leave Moorea. Got my pack and went back downtown. Damn frustrating finding the bus, asked everyone but no one seemed to understand me. They'd point to where i was. Ended up the bus didn't run on sundays! I had to get out of there. I figured i'd walk to the road out of town then hitchhike. I ended up walking the 11 km out here back to Hiti Mahama. What a walk, with my pack. Figured it was good practice for New Zealand. I was sweating like a pig in the direct sun, my glasses kept slipping off my nose. And it wasn't exactly a nice walk, along the highway. Anyways, now i'm here. Playing pool, snorkeling, playing volleyball and eating tuna and rice. Dogs everywhere barking.
I had this dream about a mean Scooby Doo dog. I tamed him and then the dream turned erotic and i had an orgasm just from petting the dog. In another dream, [my ex-girlfriend] was pregnant and wanted to have the baby. I couldn't believe it. I tried to talk her out of it (the baby wasn't by me) but she had changed drastically, all yuppified. The dream gets filed under the classification of nightmare.
I did go into Papeete (without a pack to worry about) that's where i got this notebook—c/o poste restante—i was psyched. Just to receive something from California and family and "home". I guess i do consider California "home". In all my homesickness i think of [my mom's place up north] + catching trout + sleeping on the raft on her pond. But you know when you leave it will all be the same all over again, [those ill-feelings will arise]. Things always seem better looking back on them.
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